The elementary school under construction on the former site of University Hill secondary is one step closer to opening as Rose Point in September 2014.
The name, recommended by a Vancouver School Board naming committee, would honour well-respected Musqueam educational advocate Norma “Rose” Point who died last July. The choice beat out two other short-listed names: River Grass and Acadia.
While Rose Point was the overwhelming choice of the naming committee in a vote, committee parent representative Melanie Antweiler wonders whether the choice of a First Nations name was predetermined by the board. She argues the process should have been framed as a renaming exercise so that it would have better included the families of the new school that’s operated as Acadia Road in portables on the grounds of Queen Elizabeth elementary since September 2011.
“If procedures on something like this aren’t being followed, are they otherwise?” Antweiler said. “If the board had a specific agenda that they wanted fulfilled through this process, I wish they had just said so up front. If they had said look… we want it to be a Musqueam name, at least then we would have known… I did not want to be part of a rubber stamp.”
Antweiler expressed her concerns to the school board’s planning and facilities committee Wednesday. She says NPA trustees Fraser Ballantyne and Ken Denike suggested restarting or pausing the process, or calling the school something like Rose Point at Acadia.
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Antweiler said Point sounds like a “marvelous” woman and said her concerns with the process aren’t about her worthiness.
Vision Vancouver trustee Mike Lombardi, the board liaison to the naming committee, said committee members gave the names thoughtful consideration and aimed for consensus. He dismissed Antweiler’s concern about the school board carrying out a false consultation.
“The Vancouver School Board has a terrific reputation for consultation,” he said, noting the board previously has been criticized for consulting too much.
Lombardi expects the name recommendation will go before the board in early April.
The 10-member naming committee included one parent, one teacher, one student and a principal. Antweiler argued the inclusion of three “community” members on the naming committee shifted the balance from the school’s community. Community members included two representatives from the Musqueam Indian band and Charles Menzies, a representative of the University Neighbourhoods Association and University of B.C. anthropologist.
Suggestions for the school’s name were collected through a website and submitted to the committee. One hundred and ninety-six people suggested 56 names. Eighty-four people suggested the name Rose Point. A variation of Acadia was the second most popular proposal with 26 submissions. Each committee member could suggest a name or names from the submissions.
Antweiler noted some name suggestions were submitted from outside the surrounding community and city. She believes Menzies influenced the submission process and that many of those who submitted Rose Point are attached to the department of anthropology and Museum of Anthropology at UBC.
“Bill Reid was mentioned and dismissed because he was Haida,” Antweiler said about the committee’s discussions. “Another committee member said Arthur Erickson and then dismissed it because he was a white man.”
Menzies said he consulted Point’s family early on to ensure they were comfortable with her name being forwarded. He didn’t submit the name but wrote about it on his blog.
Menzies, a First Nations person from northern B.C., was excited about having another Vancouver school named after a woman and heartened that his informal suggestion took off.
School board chair Patti Bacchus noted when the district’s naming policy was discussed in February 2012 that few school names in Vancouver reflect First Nations history, whereas nearby schools with names such as Queen Mary and Lord Byng reflect Canada’s colonial past.